- The US anti-missile system intercepted rockets that detractor groups fired at Kabul airport.
- Five rockets reportedly fired at Kabul airport.
- It is still unknown if there were any casualties after the rockets were fired in the Afghan capital.
As evacuations continue in Afghanistan to meet the scheduled date of August 31, authorities reported that rockets were fired at the Kabul airport, but managed to be intercepted by the US anti-missile system.
Although information on the latest incident remains scant, a U.S. official told ABC News that there are still no signs of casualties after five rockets were fired at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul late Sunday.
Rockets were fired at Kabul airport, but were intercepted
The official said the US military’s C-RAM anti-missile system went off to intercept incoming rockets, but it is still unclear how many, if any, it removed.
The Kabul airport remains operational and the flights that carry out the evacuations continue, the official added in the brief ABC report published at dawn on Monday, August 30.
Rockets that fired at the airport hit homes
For its part, the AP news agency reported verbatim that rockets apparently intended to attack Kabul’s international airport fell in a nearby neighborhood on Monday, on the eve of US troops completing their withdrawal from the longest war in America after the Taliban conquered Afghanistan. At first it was not clear if anyone had been injured.
The rockets did not stop the constant traffic of US military C-17 transport planes, landing and taking off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital. No group initially claimed responsibility for the attack. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) carried out a devastating suicide attack on one of the airport gates last week, killing at least 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen, the AP said.
Chaos at the airport
Successive scenes of chaos in the two weeks since the rapid offensive in which the Taliban took control of the country, almost 20 years after the initial US invasion triggered by the attacks of September 11, 2001. But since the suicide attack, the Taliban have restricted their security perimeter around the airfield and they have fighters deployed to the last fence that separates them from the runway, AP said.
In the Chahr-e-Shaheed neighborhood, a crowd quickly formed around the wreckage of a four-door sedan used by the attackers, which appeared to have six rocket launcher tubes where the back seat should be. The IS group and other militiamen often place these tubes in vehicles to transport them undetected and approach a target.
“We fell to the ground” after hearing “several explosions” after the rockets were fired
“I was inside the house with my children and other relatives when suddenly there were several explosions,” said Jaiuddin Khan, who lives nearby. “We jumped into the house complex and lay down on the floor.”
The rockets landed on the other side of town, in the Salim Karwan neighborhood, and hit residential apartment blocks. That neighborhood is 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the airport. At first there were no reports of injuries, AP said.
Biden was informed about the “rocket attack”
In Washington, the White House indicated in a statement that the president, Joe Biden, had been informed of the “rocket attack on the Hamid Karzai International Airport” in Kabul, the aforementioned news agency reported.
“The president was informed that operations continue without interruption at (the airport) and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground,” the statement said.
Planes were leaving every 20 minutes this morning
The US military did not respond to requests for comment from the AP. After the rocket fire, the planes continued to land and circulate on the military side of the airport. At one point on Monday morning, planes were leaving every 20 minutes.
The airport has been one of the few ways for Afghan citizens and foreigners to flee the Taliban. However, members of the international coalition have ended their evacuations in recent days, leaving the US military virtually alone at the base, with some Afghan allied forces providing security.
Taliban would have given “guarantees” so that people with documents can leave Afghanistan
The US State Department released a statement on Sunday signed by some 100 countries, as well as NATO and the European Union, that it had received “guarantees” from the Taliban that people with travel papers will still be able to leave the country.
The Taliban have said they will allow normal travel after the United States completes its evacuation on Tuesday and they take control of the airport. However, it remains unclear how the airport will be managed and which commercial airlines will start flying there given security concerns, AP said.
Local Islamic State group remains a threat
Although the Taliban have kept their promise not to attack Western forces during evacuations until Tuesday, the local branch of the IS group remains a threat. The group, known as Khorasan Province from the historical name of the region, was reinforced when the Taliban released prisoners across the country in their offensive, including IS fighters.
A US drone on Sunday blew up a vehicle with “several suicide bombers” from the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State before they could attack the military evacuation underway at Kabul international airport, according to US authorities. Three children were killed in the attack, according to an Afghan official mentioned by AP.
Attack left civilian casualties
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Army Central Command, acknowledged the reports of civilian casualties. “We would deeply regret any possible loss of innocent life,” he said in a statement.
The United States carried out another drone attack in another part of the country, which it said killed two members of the Islamic State, reported the AP at dawn on Monday, August 30, when reporting on the most recent event in the midst of that warlike conflict.
The total withdrawal must conclude this Tuesday
The United States is scheduled to complete its withdrawal on Tuesday. By then, Washington hopes to have completed a massive two-week air operation to remove more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners from the country and withdraw its last troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban again in the power.
Yet Afghans continue to fear that the Taliban will reinstate the oppressive regime for which it was previously known. There have been sporadic reports of murders and other abuses in their offensive throughout the country, the aforementioned news agency concluded. (Report published with information from ABC News and text from AP).
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